A Reply To The Mahatma By Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

 

(This reply was included as Appendix II in the second edition of Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's 'Annihilation of Caste') 

I appreciate greatly the honour done me by the Mahatma in taking notice in his Harijan of the speech on Caste which I had prepared for the Jat Pat Todak Mandal. From a perusal of his review of my speech, it is clear that the Mahatma completely dissents from the views I have expressed on the subject of Caste. I am not in the habit of entering into controversy with my opponents unless there are special reasons which compel me to act otherwise. Had my opponent been some mean and obscure person, I would not have pursued him. But my opponent being the Mahatma himself I feel I must attempt to meet the case to the contrary which he has sought to put forth.

While I appreciate the honour he has done me, I must confess to a sense of surprise on finding that of all the persons the Mahatma should accuse me of a desire to seek publicity, as he seems to do when he suggests that in publishing the undelivered speech my object was to see that I was not "forgotten". Whatever the Mahatma may choose to say, my object in publishing the speech was to provoke the Hindus to think and take stock of their position. I have never hankered for publicity, and if I may say so, I have more of it than I wish or need. But supposing it was out of the motive of gaining publicity that I printed the speech, who could cast a stone at me? Surely not those, who like the Mahatma, live in glass houses.

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Why Madhusudan Refused to Play it Safe

 

Devesh Kapur, D Shyam Babu and Chandra Bhan Prasad

Born to an indentured laborer father in a Dalit family where food mattered more than studies, Mannam Madhusudan Rao began as a construction worker. Today, he runs his own construction company that is completing a township worth Rs 250 crore. This is the story of how he took this remarkable journey – the colossal risks, successes and failures through which he has persevered, all the while fighting the stigma of caste and entrepreneurship in a culture that values a job, preferably a safe government job, over independence.

The wide road leading to Jubilee Hills is difficult to navigate with its heavy motor traffic and unwieldy dips and turns. The near absence of pedestrians on the road points to its being an exclusive residential area in Hyderabad, sought by those with the means to afford its dramatic hilltop views and discreetly nestled mansions, a luxury anywhere in urban India.

mmr 1

Mannam Madhusudhan Rao, founder of the MMR Group. Photo courtesy Mannam Madhusudhan Rao

The major artery, Road Number 86, slices through the heart of Jubilee Hills, servicing the numerous mansions and apartment complexes that have mushroomed on its hilltops. The rich and famous of Hyderabad – film stars, politicians, contractors, big-time moneylenders, industrialists and bankers – have laid claim to the hills. Their homes provide a convenient getaway from the heat and chaos of the city below, while remaining close enough to keep tabs on their business preoccupations. So it is with Mannam Madhusudan Rao, known as MMR, who occupies a prized apartment on the hilltop.

In his late thirties, MMR owns and runs the MMR Group of Companies, involved in construction, including infrastructure projects. He is racing to complete an entire township in Rajahmundry, a project worth Rs 250 crore.

MMR's route to his coveted hilltop address began with a dinner party in September 2011 at a country club in Jubilee Hills. "That's a dinner I didn't relish," he now admits. "It was more about drinks than food!"

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A life lived for the community

 

Rakshit Sonawane

Till 1994, Kishore was one of those forgotten people who have to struggle to get the minimum necessities in life, and undergo humiliation and abuse from the rich and powerful who have everything in life handed to them on a platter.

kishore shantabai kale

An illegitimate son to a tamasha dancer (tamasha being a performing folk art in Maharashtra famous for its dancers who sing 'laavni' — raunchy songs), Kishore was born into the Kolhati community. It is a community that survives on tamasha shows and where the girls are groomed to become dancers. The men live on the earnings and generally turn to alcohol.

Kishore wanted more from life. After somehow convincing his family, he went to school. The authorities wanted to know his father's name so that they could admit him. After a lot of persuasion and delay, Kishore was allowed to use his mother Shantabai's name as his middle name.

The poverty, superstition, alcoholism and illiteracy that he grew up around gave him the drive to study medicine so that he could do his bit for society in general and his community in particular. With help from his aunt Madhu Kambikar, a Marathi film actress, he enrolled in Grant Medical College, Mumbai, for his MBBS. He was teased and insulted endlessly by more 'civilised' children who wanted to know where his father was and what his mother did.

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'I don't want stable government': Kanshi Ram

 

Dilip Awasthi and Javed M. Ansari

December 31, 1993

In India, 50 per cent of the media is pro-BJP: Kanshi Ram

Knashiram collecting funds

He sits in an old chair in the corner of a sparsely furnished and dimly lit room in New Delhi, speaking in a commanding tone and bristling with a new confidence for, at 59, Kanshi Ram has finally arrived in politics.

Taking an almost childish delight in telling his stream of visitors how he succeeded despite dire predictions to the contrary, Kanshi Ram talks in a low voice although his conversation is high on rhetoric when he touches on his favourite theme - the "Brahminical social order".

His euphoria is understandable. Kanshi Ram and his Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have entered the political firmament from virtually nowhere with the help, of course, of his ally Mulayam Singh. Kanshi Ram has seen his party grow from being a fringe force merely nibbling into the votes of the major parties to capturing 67 seats in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly.

Principal Correspondents Dilip Awasthi and Javed M. Ansari asked Kanshi Ram, generally referred to as belonging to a Scheduled Caste, about his future strategy, his contempt for the existing social order and the confusion surrounding his own caste. Excerpts:

Q. Despite so many years in politics you still remain an enigma. Some callyou a Brahmin, others believe you are a former IAS officer while some are convinced that you are a Christian.

A. All this is a media manipulation. As many as 110 cover stories on me have appeared so far and you are still asking me this question. I am fed up of this question and will not answer it. If you want, you can refer to the old records or ask my workers outside.

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'It's no alliance'

 

Zafar Agha

Uttar Pradesh is the cradle of Brahminism: Kanshi Ram

BSP supremo Kanshi Ram spoke to Special Correspondent Zafar Agha from his Escorts Heart Institute bed in Delhi. Excerpts:

kanshi ram in hospital

Q. When did your relations with Mulayam Singh Yadav reach a turning point?
A. The panchayat elections were the turning point. There was rigging, booth-capturing, intimidation. Even the BSP was not spared.

Q. Haven't you joined up with a communal party now?
A. The BJP is BJP, the BSP is BSP. The BJP's views are very well known. I don't call it a communal party.

Q. Hasn't the BSP now allied itself with Manuvadi forces?
A. There is no alliance. We have only joined hands as co-sufferers of Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Q. Is it very temporary?
A. It is a very temporary liaison. We were interested only in overthrowing a chief minister who was using criminals to throttle the democratic process and was destroying every party.

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Riddle No. 2: The Origin of the Vedas - The Brahminic Explanation Or an Exercise in the Art of Circumlocution

 

(From 'Religious Riddles' in Part I of the book 'Riddles in Hinduism' by Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar)

There is hardly any Hindu who does not regard the Vedas as the most sacred Book of his religion. And yet ask any Hindu what is the origin of the Vedas and it would be difficult to find one who can give a clear and a definite answer to the simple question. Of course, if the question was addressed to a Vedic Brahmin he would say that the Vedas are Sanatan. But this is no answer to the question. For first of all what does the word Sanatan mean?

The best explanation of the word Sanatan is to be found in the commentary by Kulluka Bhatt on Chapter I Shlokas 22-23 of the Manu Smriti. This is how Kulluka Bhatt defines the word Sanatan1.

"The word Sanatana he says, means 'eternally pre-existing'. The doctrine of the superhuman origin of the Vedas is maintained by Manu. The same Vedas which (existed) in the previous mundane era (Kalpa) were preserved in the memory of the omniscient Brahma, who was one with the supreme spirits. It was those same Vedas that, in the beginning of the present Kalpa, he drew forth from Agni, Vayu and Surya; and this dogma, which is founded upon the Veda, is not to be questioned, for the Veda says, 'the Rig-Veda comes from Agni, the Yajur-Veda from Vayu, and the Sama-Veda from Surya." To understand the explanation by Kulluka Bhatt it is necessary to explain what Kalpa means.

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Riddle No. 1: The difficulty of knowing why one is a Hindu

 

(From 'Religious Riddles' in Part I of the book 'Riddles in Hinduism' by Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar)

India is a congeries of communities. There are in it Parsis, Christians, Mohammedans and Hindus. The basis of these communities is not racial. It is of course religious. This is a superficial view. What is interesting to know is why is a Parsi a Parsi and why is a Christian a Christian, why is a Muslim a Muslim and why is a Hindu a Hindu? With regard to the Parsi, the Christian and the Muslim it is smooth sailing. Ask a Parsi why he calls himself a Parsi he will have no difficulty in answering the question. He will say he is a Parsi because he is a follower of Zoraster. Ask the same question to a Christian. He too will have no difficulty in answering the question. He is a Christian because he believes in Jesus Christ. Put the same question to a Muslim. He too will have no hesitation in answering it. He will say he is a believer in Islam and that is why he is a Muslim.

Now ask the same question to a Hindu and there is no doubt that he will be completely bewildered and would not know what to say.

If he says that he is a Hindu because he worships the same God as the Hindu Community does his answer cannot be true. All Hindus do not worship one God. Some Hindus are monotheists, some are polytheists and some are pantheists. Even those Hindus who are monotheists are not worshippers of the same Gods. Some worship the God Vishnu, some Shiva, some Rama, some Krishna. Some do not worship the male Gods. They worship a goddess. Even then they do not worship the same Goddesses. They worship different Goddesses. Some worship Kali, some worship Parvati, some worship Laxmi.

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